AUGUST 19, 2020

How To Get Started on JWST Cycle 1 Proposals

With a new JWST Cycle 1 deadline, work on proposals is ramping up again. We would like to welcome our community back, as well as any new potential observers who might have recently joined.

To help everyone get started, here is a list of pointers. JWST is a new observatory with many relatively complex observing modes. The proposal tools require some effort to learn, so starting preparations early is highly recommended. 

Video Tutorials 

Our JWST Observer YouTube channel contains short video tutorials to help you get started with the Exposure Time Calculator (ETC) and Astronomers Proposal Tool (APT). The channel also contains recordings from the JWST Master Class sessions and recent webinars from each of the Early Release Science (ERS) Teams. These are great resources for discovering the most important aspects of proposing for JWST.

The JWST Interactive Sensitivity Tool

If you have an idea for a new proposal, but want to check the JWST sensitivity first without having to run the full ETC, the JWST Interactive Sensitivity Tool (JIST) may be the place to start. This quick-look tool uses calculations from the ETC, but only requires the users to pick the observing mode and exposure time.

JWST User Documentation System (JDox)

The JDox system contains a wealth of information about JWST, its instruments, and the proposing tools. Proposers may find the Getting Started article particularly helpful. Each observing mode is also described by a Roadmap article to lead you through the entire proposal process. Finally, JDox contains 15 detailed Example Science Programs that can be used as templates for new proposals.

Master Class Workshop in a Box Materials

A group of community members was selected to help train their local communities in proposing for JWST, as part of the JWST Master Classes in the Americas and in Europe. We have compiled the training materials from the Master Class into the Workshop in a Box, which includes presentation slides, exercises, and guidelines for the various observing modes. These materials can be downloaded piecemeal or in their entirety.

JWST Help Desk

As always, the JWST Help Desk is open and available to help you with any specific needs. The Help Desk also contains a set of Knowledgebase articles that are searchable, and may get you to the answer of frequently asked questions even faster.


For technical assistance, please contact the JWST Help Desk.


The NASA James Webb Space Telescope, developed in partnership with ESA and CSA, is operated by AURA’s Space Telescope Science Institute.